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Probe: Dec. 26, 2001

December 26, 2001

QUESTION: Can you tell me why Mexicans put unpitted olives in tamales? I was eating tamales Friday night, bit into an olive and almost broke a tooth. Then I hit a second olive pit in the same tamale. I think Mexican dentists must be behind the practice of putting unpitted olives in tamales. Olive pits must be the most common cause of broken teeth in Mexico. — Ouch, El Centro

We did a little survey among Hispanics and the most common reason they gave for putting unpitted olives in tamales was a tamal without an olive pit would not be a tamal.

We are not sure we buy that argument. We've had tamales with big wedges of potatoes and even green beans. We've never run into anybody who said a tamal without a green bean is just not a tamal.

We think there is a more practical reason for putting a whole olive, pit and all, in a tamal. It slows those wolfish eaters who would chomp through a platter of tamales while other diners untied one.

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Knowing they could chomp on a tooth-breaking olive pit with every bite slows fast eaters to a more refined pace, giving other diners a better chance at the platter.

When you're feeding a crowd, you have to think about things like that.

GIVE US AN "A" — I have no definitive answer for the spelling of Osama as in Osama bin Laden. Time magazine ran a picture of bin Laden recently with his name written in Arabic under it.

The name starts with an alef (all that means is the name starts with a vowel, any vowel), followed by a sem (an "S"), followed by an alef, which in that position has the sound of a Spanish "A," then a mem (an M) and finally a symbol that stands for an A.

Bin Laden's first name starts with a vowel and that could be an A or an O or a U or even an I. However, I agree with your Calexico reader. It probably doesn't make any difference since spellings change in translation. — Old Friend, Silicon Valley

Good, because we're sticking with Osama, The Associated Press-approved spelling. Thank you.

GASOLINE FOR TODDLER — I will donate 500 gallons of gasoline to deliver that little girl to San Diego for her medical treatments for her leukemia. — Christmas Angel, rural Seeley

Thank you. Call Cindy at 355-4365 or email her at cindylopez@onemain.com. Cindy knows the family.

A FUND RAISER FOR TODDLER — I belong to a group of guys who work at Holly Sugar. We would like to put on a fund raiser for the little girl with leukemia. — Good Guys, Brawley

OK, Cindy, it's your turn. Get in touch with Bill Woelke at 344-6604, ext. *8-20 or 344-3112, ext. *8-34.

TURN ON THE CABLE — Here's $10 to turn on the woman's cable. How much does she need? — Generous, El Centro

She needs $60.

SEARCH FOR BOXERS' OWNER — The man who found the two boxers, one male and one female, called us back and we are grateful. We are even more grateful he left his name — Steve Apodaca — and a number where he can be reached, 482-0811.

OK, PROBE readers, if you know anyone who is missing two boxers, tell the person to call Steve. He is determined to find the owners of the dogs. We are sure they were missed by their family on Christmas. Let's see if we can get the dogs home before the new year.

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